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The red Poinsettia, or Euphorbia pulcherrima, is an indoor plant that instantly brings that Christmas feel to your home.
With its characteristic large bright red leaves, it is the perfect houseplant for the holiday season.
Most people throw their Poinsettia plant out after the holidays, as you would a Christmas tree.
I say, keep it. Instead of dumping it, get some tips and find out how to take care of your Poinsettia year-round. You can even get it to rebloom and turn those leaves red again!
There are many different cultivated varieties of Poinsettias. They come in a range of colors, including traditional red, pink, white, yellow, and purple. You can even find marbled and speckled variations.
Poinsettia Care Tips
Poinsettias are easy to grow, but they are sensitive plants. So you got to watch out for a few things:
- Make sure there are no drafts or big changes in temperature.
- Don’t put your plant near any ceiling fans or heat sources.
- You can shock your plant with cold water, so use tepid water instead.
- Avoid dark corners.
- Keep the humidity up around your plant.
If you like to take a little time to mist your plants, the Poinsettia is a houseplant that loves it.
Another way to up the humidity is to place your pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water to up the humidity around your plant. Or get a humidifier and place it near the plant to keep the humidity up.
Watering a Poinsettia Plant
For most plants, I say let the top of the soil completely dry out before you water again.
But let me tell you, when Poinsettia plants are actively growing, they do best in slightly moist soil.
When you water your Poinsettia, use tepid water as to not shock your plant with a cold shower.
If the leaves of your Poinsettia start to curl on the edges, water immediately. It is telling you it is thirsty.
TIP: Remove the decorative foil Christmas wrapper they often come in. Or make sure to punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage. You don’t want the plant to sit in water.
Poinsettia Care Year-Round
How you care for a Poinsettia differs a lot depending on the season it is.
It’s good to know things like to water it less after blooming to let it rest.
So check this out, it’s a month to month care schedule for your Poinsettia plant!
November – December
Most likely this is the time when you get your blooming Poinsettia.
Enjoy it for the holidays!
When in bloom, place your Poinsettia in a sunny window and keep the soil slightly moist.
Do not fertilize while the plant is blooming.
January – February – March
The red leaves will drop after flowering. The green leaves will turn yellow first and then fall off leaving you with a bare, or almost bare stem.
This is perfectly normal and the start of the Poinsettia’s dormancy until spring.
Reduce watering and allow the plant to rest.
April – May
Hooray for the arrival of spring!
When spring starts, your plant comes out of dormancy. Start with just a little water and when you see new growth, up the watering.
Fertilize about every two weeks. And repot if necessary.
June – July – August
Continue to water regularly and fertilize.
Your plant will grow more new shoots and leaves. You may want to prune back your Poinsettia to encourage more branching.
Give your Poinsettia plenty of bright light in spring and summer. To avoid sunburn, make it a DIY window sun diffuser. It’s quick and easy!
September – October
When fall arrives, water less and decrease fertilizer to once a month.
To up your chances of having your Poinsettia bloom again during the holiday season, you can give it a dark treatment at this time, as you would do with a Christmas Cactus to make it flower.
Just read on, how to do such a dark treatment for your Poinsettia is described right below.
When the leaves of your plant begin to change color, you can stop the dark treatment and increase the light again, and resume normal watering.
How to Get a Poinsettia to Flower for Christmas
What is fascinating about the Poinsettia is that what we call flowers really are not the flowers of the poinsettia plant. Those are modified colored leaves called bracts.
Poinsettias do have flowers, tiny yellow ones inside those bracts. The leaves change color before the flowers open and last for a while longer.
It’s the beautifully colored leaves called bracts that give the Poinsettia it’s recognizable Christmas look.
How to get Poinsettia leaves to turn red again
You can get a Poinsettia to bloom again. It does take a bit of effort and attention. And because nature does what nature wants, it is not guaranteed to always work.
What you want to do is mimic the original habitat of the Poinsettia, lower temperatures and shorter days, to trigger your plant to produce its colored bracts.
You should start the dark treatment around the end of September, early October to have your Poinsettia rebloom and produce colored bracts around Christmas.
- Daytime: Give your plant plenty of light. Find the sunniest spot in your home and put your poinsettia there.
- Nighttime: Put your plant in complete darkness for 12 to 14 hours.
An easy way to keep your plant in the dark is to use a large cardboard box and cover the plant with it. Place the box over your plant in the early evening and remove it again in the morning.
Stop the dark treatment when you notice the leaves start to change color.
How to Prune a Poinsettia
In spring, when your Poinsettia has finished its resting period, it’s a great time to prune it.
Use a clean, sharp pruner, cut back each stem to approximately four to six inches, just above a leaf node.
Place your pruned plant somewhere with indirect light, watch out for too much direct sunlight.
If any new growth appears after you’ve pruned it, throughout spring or summer, you can just pinch it off.
Always wear gloves when pruning a Poinsettia! They ooze sap that can be irritating to skin and eyes.
Common Poinsettia Problems
Don’t see your Poinsettia problem listed? Leave a comment with your question down below, and I will try to answer it asap. Let’s talk
Poinsettia Dropping Leaves
Poinsettia plants can behave a bit diva-like. If their conditions aren’t just right they will show their unhappiness by dropping leaves.
Usually, there is an easy fix for leaf drop on a Poinsettia.
Keep your plant in a bright, draft-free place out of direct sunlight and make sure the soil is kept moist during the blooming season but not soggy.
If the bottom leaves of your Poinsettia are turning yellow before dropping, you are most likely overwatering your plant.
Too little water and you will notice the lower and middle leaves wilting and dropping. Give it a drink.
Or the air could be too dry for its liking. Move your plant away from the radiator and mist regularly.
Poinsettia is Growing Leggy
Poinsettias grow leggy when they get too little light. The legginess is your plant stretching towards any light it can get.
Make sure your plant gets plenty of light. Give it a brighter spot in your home.
You can prune away any leggy growth in spring or summer.
Is the Poinsettia poisonous?
Unfortunately, yes. The Poinsettia is toxic.
This toxicity is not as bad as some think. The Poinsettia has a bad rap as being super dangerous to your pets.
What is true is that your pet can get an irritated mouth and or stomach problems, and maybe vomit, but not much more than that.
The ASPCA even mentions that the Poinsettia is generally over-rated in toxicity.
Still, if you have a pet that gravitates towards eating the plant, please take caution and place the plant somewhere out of reach.
It is very rare for pets to die from eating plants. They can get sick. It is always important to research and find out what type of plant you bing home.
Read more on the risks of toxic plants and your pets and if you should be worried or not.
Where to Buy Poinsettia Plants
Poinsettias are for sale almost only during the holiday season. Suddenly you will see them pop up at every garden center and plant nursery. Many grocery stores and gas stations will have them for sale as well.
If you can, start at your local plant nursery or garden center to pick out your Poinsettia. Their plants are usually better cared for, giving you the best chance of success in caring for your plant at home.
But I understand how life can go. You might be in a hurry and need to pick up a quick Christmas gift on the way over. So grocery store or gas station it is.
Look at the plants. Choose a healthy-looking one.
Beware of crowded displays as Poinsettias like to have their space.
Also, avoid plants displayed near the front of the store. Automatic doors blow cold drafts in over those plants. Something Poinsettias really don’t like.
TIP: If you purchase a Poinsettia on a cold day, make sure to wrap it during transport so the plant won’t get too much cold shock.
If you don’t live near a nursery that carries Poinsettias, luckily there are plant growers that sell them on Amazon.